Is hydropower the answer?

The following blog entry was written by Rohit Bhonagiri, an accounting student in Dr. Marion Suiseeya’s International Environmental Policy class. The students in this class are conducting a digital ethnography of COP21.

Rohit’s blog was originally posted on his own website: https://intransitman.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/is-hydropower-the-answer/

COP21 began on the 30th of November and things look good because all the actors are scurrying about making historic speeches about saving the environment. I have been following issues related to women and indigenous women at COP21.

After looking at all the tweets on the women’s movements in Paris, I got a request to follow the World Economic Forum (WEF). The first tweet I came across was a picture with statistics of the renewable energy profile for the world which said that hydropower is the most efficient renewable energy and is better than other renewable sources because it can store electricity for later use. The benefits outweigh the costs, economic costs. One of my classmates, Eiji, mentioned that Brazil said that they are working hard on the environmental front and people should be optimistic of COP21. What they forgot to mention is any indigenous or human rights. Another place that indigenous, human and women’s rights is not mentioned is the non-paper that is submitted for negotiation. Brazil gets about 70% of its electricity from hydropower despite strong opposition from indigenous people that have lost their area. This now takes this issue to a new dimension of climate justice.  Background on these issues can be got from articles at the bottom of this blog.

From what I know indigenous people face a big obstacle, state sovereignty.  All states exercise power over the people and some need to adapt and make sacrifices. Indigenous people aren’t a big part on state economies and cannot wield power like Oil and gas companies. Should mitigation tactics include a drastic reduction in consumption like what Kalyani Raj overemphasized on in “Women’s Red Flags for the Climate Talks”? Whatever the next source of energy is, we must consider the social costs of it.

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